Re: short sails
Tue, 11 May 1999 21:23:57 EDT

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West Wight Potter Website at URL
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In a message dated 5/11/99 5:49:52 PM Pacific Daylight Time,

> Just raised the issue of the short jib and genoa with the friendly salesman
> at WM, the guy who told me to go to Home Base for Epoxy paint for the keel.
> Well, he said I needed a 'sail stretcher'. He said this was a common
> problem in the yachting world of America and the solution was to have the
> sail stretched so that it filled the full length of the headstay. He said
> WM did not offer this service but that there were many sail lofts,
> especially on the East coast, which could do an adequate job. I've never
> heard of a sail stretcher. Is there anybody out there who has? Can you
> refer me to such a loft?

That sounds like a bunch of hooey to me! Stretching a sail is the last thing
you would want to do to it!!!! He must have been pulling your leg or there's
been some misunderstanding/miscommunication between you and the "friendly

Your jib and genoa may very well have different luff lengths and it's normal
and absolutely common that some headsails don't all reach the full length of
the headstay. The lenth of the sail along the headstay is called the luff.
I have a P19 and don't know about the specifics of the luff length of the
p15's sails, but I can tell you that my P19 genoa goes almost the full length
of the headstay, the lapper is a bit shorter (mine has a luff of 17.5 feet)
and the storm jib is even short along the luff (about 14.5 feet long.) On
the smaller headsails, it's perfectly normal for the sail to not go all the
way to the top of the headstay.

As for those short lines at the bottom of your headsails: Sometimes, in
order to get the correct angle on the jib sheets (the line you use to control
the fullness of the headsail), folks put a short length of line or wire on
the bottom of the sail (the "tack"). This changes the horizontal angle that
the sheet pulls on the sail and, under the correct circumstances, improves
the shape of the sail when it's full of wind. When a short line is added to
the top or bottom of the sail, we call that line a "pennant" or "pendant".
The purpose of the pennant is to improve the angle that the sheet pulls on
the headsail, not to ensure that it goes all the way to the top of the

You can also change the angle of the sheet lead by moving the block (pulley)
that the sheet goes through. In this case, moving the block forward would
affect the sail shape the same way as adding a pennant. this is easily done
if your sheetlead blocks are on a track, but not so easily done if you don't
have a track. The previous owner probably used the pennants to get the
correct lead angle without resorting to moveing the block.

Hope this helps. You don't need to worry that your sails don't reach all the
way to the top of the headstay. And I hope you don't go off on a wild goose
chase looking for a "sail-stretcher"

Judy B

Judith Blumhorst, DC
HMS18/P19 Fleet Cap'n, Potters Yachters
1985 WWP19 #266 Redwing
Sailing on SF Bay, CA
(5-35 knot winds, 2-4' chop, 2-6' swells, and currents up to 6 knots)
Visit <A HREF="">Judy B's
West Wight Potter Pages
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the Potter Yachters